Opposite dugout: Rays starting relievers in all three games vs. Orioles

rays-logo.jpgManager: Kevin Cash (4th season)

Record: 23-25

Last 10 games: 7-3

Who to watch: C Wilson Ramos (.301 with 6 HR, 24 RBIs), CF Mallex Smith (.293, 11 SB), OF Johnny Field (.280 with 4 HR, 8 RBIs), RHP Sergio Romo (1-0, 4.34 ERA), RHP Alex Colomé (11 saves)

Season series vs. Orioles: 3-3

Pitching probables:

May 25: RHP David Hess (1-1) vs. RHP Sergio Romo (1-0), 7:10 p.m., MASN
May 26: RHP Andrew Cashner (2-5) vs. RHP Ryne Stanek (0-0), 4:10 p.m., MASN
May 27: RHP Kevin Gausman (3-3) vs. RHP Sergio Romo (1-0), 1:10 p.m., MASN

Inside the Rays:

The Rays will host the Orioles at Tropicana Field this weekend for their third meeting of the season. The Rays went 1-3 in their last series against the O’s two weeks ago and have been outscored 35-44 and outhomered 15-6 in their six contests so far. But after their woeful start to the season, capped by a 17-1 defeat at the hands of the O’s on May 12 at Camden Yards, the Rays built some momentum on their most recent road trip winning six in a row (averaging 5.5 runs per game) and taking two of their last three series (including a sweep of the Royals). They avoided a sweep at the hands of the Red Sox last night, but have still lost three in a row at home and are hoping to bring their luck on the road to the Trop.

The Rays have been making headlines this week with their unorthodox “bullpenning” experiment to let right-hander Sergio Romo pitch in only the first few batters against the Angels on May 19 and May 20, inserting scheduled starters after one and 1 1/3 innings. The end results have been mixed - the Rays and Angels split those games 1-1 and Romo tossed a scoreless first inning in both games. He struck out the side in the first inning against the Angels on Saturday, shutting down Zack Cozart, Mike Trout and Justin Upton. In Sunday’s contest, he struck out Trout, Upton and Jefry Marte. This experiment of playing the percentages will continue this weekend against a Baltimore lineup heavy with right-handed hitters. Romo will start Friday and Sunday, and fellow reliever RHP Ryne Stanek (0-0, 5.40 ERA) will take Saturday’s assignment. Right-handed batters are batting .196 against Romo this season and have hit .188 against him in his career. Lefties, however, are .360 against him this season and .245 in his career. The 26-year old Stanek appeared during the last series against the O’s, allowing a grand slam to Manny Machado. He was hit hard in his return to the majors last Saturday, failing to record an out in his ninth-inning appearance against the Angels.

Second baseman Joey Wendle came off the paternity list yesterday, sending top prospect Willy Adames back down to Triple-A Durham. Wendle has been one of the most solid parts of the Rays offense this season, slashing .288/.336/.384 with five doubles, two triples, one home run and 11 RBIs. This season he has been especially dominant against the Orioles - batting .440 with a double, four RBIs and two stolen bases. He will be eligible to return to the lineup tonight against the O’s. After missing Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox, Catcher Wilson Ramos picked himself up in last night’s 6-3 victory over Boston, going 3-for-4 and driving in two runs in the cleanup spot. After a brief rough patch where he went 2-for-17 in four games, Ramos is batting .471 over his last five games. Outfielder Johnny Field has been a valuable addition to the Rays in his brief time with them so far, putting up a .280/.316/.493 slash line and impressively playing all three outfield positions in 25 games. He’s hit safely in nine of his last 12 games, and has a .310 average with four home runs and eight RBIs.

Closer Alex Colomé has lowered his ERA from 10.80 in mid-April to 4.15, and has converted 11 saves in 13 tries.

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